The Kush Upadhyay Group releases first full-length album, ‘Impulsive Decisions’
The Kush Upadhyay Group is the instrumental prog-rock solo project of guitarist Kush Upadhyay, the 20-year-old who has been in the scene since he was just 13. ‘Impulsive Decisions’ is their third release, but the first full-length album. The album is an interesting journey through a chock-full of different emotions.
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Tell us a bit about this release.
‘Impulsive Decisions’ is my third personal record but my first full-length album. It’s an eight-track record that features Gino Banks on drums, Anurag Naidu on keys and Sheldon on bass. We tracked this album live at Jehangir’s Cotton Press Studio in Mumbai. This was supposed to be a five-track record originally. We recorded the first 5 songs sometime in May, and then the other 3 songs were tracked sometime in August. The music was composed by me, but we all sat and arranged the songs together.
Does the title ‘Impulsive Decisions’ reflect on your personal life?
Yes it does, in a way. I feel that I am, in some ways, very impulsive. If I have something in mind, I always want to do it ASAP and see how it goes, which is how this record came into existence, too. I had a few songs that I’d written which I presented to the band. I think when we tracked the first batch of songs, all of us just sat once to figure the parts out and went into the studio the next day to record. The second batch of songs were even more impulsive, if I had to say so. We had no rehearsals before the tracking with all of us together. We just made some scratch recordings at Gino’s place with him and Anurag, and sent it to the band. The next day, we met again at the studio and just pressed record and played the songs. I like how this works, because all ideas we had were very fresh and raw. Sometimes, the very first thing that comes into your mind is probably the best idea. Or the second way to look at this would be that we just got lucky with the tracking hahaha. I named the album ‘Impulsive Decisions’ in the studio while we were tracking as a joke to how fast everything happened. But the name stuck after that.
All your songs are so aptly named that it makes us wonder: do you name your songs after composing them, or build your songs around a certain concept?
For me, the biggest problem in making an album is not making the music or getting it tracked but to name the songs hahaha. All the songs were named after they were tracked. That’s how it’s been for me all these years. After the song is ready, I just think [about] what I relate it to and name them. I guess that’s how I look at any song. It should remind of something when I listen to it. I don’t think I’ve ever written a song around a certain concept.
You’ve been in the scene for about 7 years now, since you were just 13. As someone who’s spent their whole teenage life dabbling in this industry, what do you think about it and how has it grown?
For me, it’s been a great journey so far. Over these years, I’ve played with many bands and musicians, and worked for a lot of projects as a session guitarist. In the start, the basic idea was just to play regularly with as many different projects as possible. Even now, that’s the idea. Playing different genres of music and getting to learn is my primary goal. I’ve grown from playing a parish gig in Kalina to the biggest Blues festival in the country and that’s great. Though I’m playing regularly now and being a part of different projects, I wish that I got to play more with my own setup. Now, the idea is just to balance out work-related projects and my personal project. At some point, I would like to just play the music I love solely and still survive. That’s my dream if I had to say so, hahahaha.
Was the artwork conceptualized by you?
No, not really. The artwork was made by Arjun Rajkishore, who is brilliant at what he does. When I contacted him to make the artwork for this album, I had a look at his work. He already had an artwork made that was kept for his personal use, I guess. The moment I saw that, I related it to this album and asked him if he could make something along those lines, and he did. That’s how the artwork was made.
What’s next for you?
Right now, I’m doing a few gigs to promote the new album and working on more instrumental music. That’s always happening. I’m also working on a really cool trio project with Jai Row Kavi and Nathan Thomas. That’s going to be a vocal album for a change. It’s something I’ve never done before, but I’m really looking forward to it. The music is much more heavier than what I’ve written in the past. Let’s see how that goes.